Water heater installation situation

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Earl Lemongrab
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Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:16 pm

If you are seeing this for the first time, check for numerous updates in subsequent posts.

I need to have my water heater replaced. The installation contractor informs me that as the existing one is sitting on a wooden platform, sort of built into the wall, it's not to code to install it. The platform is about 24"x24"x6".

How to proceed? I can't even remove it myself because the old tank is sitting on it.
Last edited by Earl Lemongrab on Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PFInterest
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by PFInterest » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:36 pm

i would look up the code and make sure they are not just being lazy.
then call a few more contractors and start getting quotes.

Kaufmanrider
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Kaufmanrider » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:39 pm

Where is the water heater located in the house?

What state do you live in? I am sure building codes differ.

What has the contractor recommended to correct the issue?

earlyout
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by earlyout » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:42 pm

The first question to answer is why is it installed on a platform? Is it up from the floor because of potential flooding or for some other reason? If there are good reasons why the new water heater should not sit on the floor ask the contractor what kind of platform or stand is allowed by code. My guess is a steel platform will be okay. In any case you will have to remove the wooden platform, or as much of it as possible if it is built into a concrete wall, and install the new water heater on a steel stand or let it sit on the floor. Steel stands are readily available.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:46 pm

It is installed in a laundry/utility room (also has the boiler for the radiant system). It was like that when I got the house. The contractor had no solution other than when it's corrected they will install. They said it is a city permit item. I am in Missouri.
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Rupert
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Rupert » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:06 pm

My water heater sits on a wooden platform like that in my unfinished basement. I think the platform is there because the cement floor isn't level; it is sloped so that water runs from the outside walls to a sump pump. There's a metal pan between the heater and the platform. I just replaced my heater last year, and the plumber didn't say anything about the platform being an issue. So, maybe try a different plumber? (I realize, of course, that code may be different where I live).

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baconavocado
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by baconavocado » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:12 pm

I just replaced my water heater myself and put it on a new 24x24x6" wood platform because the new tank was a little shorter than the old one and I didn't want to reconfigure the plumbing and duct work. Please don't report me to the city building department.

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HueyLD
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by HueyLD » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:19 pm

Interesting. I didn’t know that wood platform for water heater could be against the code.

I have lived in several states and each previous house had wood platform for the water heater. My current house has a 20-inch high metal platform to support the water heater.

I guess the OP can call his city for clarification.

neilpilot
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by neilpilot » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:24 pm

This code may apply only to combustibles if the heater is gas fired, as opposed to electric. OP didn't say if it's gas or electric.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:25 pm

Right, right. It's natural gas.
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neilpilot
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by neilpilot » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:27 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:25 pm
Right, right. It's natural gas.
Then ask code agency of a fire resistant shield over the platform, i.e. a galvanized plate, will meet code

VaR
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by VaR » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:32 pm

OP, did the plumber who refused to install the gas water heater say which part of the code you're in violation of and what you'd have to do in order for him to install it?

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by neilpilot » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:38 pm

VaR wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:32 pm
OP, did the plumber who refused to install the gas water heater say which part of the code you're in violation of and what you'd have to do in order for him to install it?
When the OP wrote "The contractor had no solution other than when it's corrected they will install." he answered your question.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by 123 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:48 pm

One house I lived in (which was built in the 1940's) had the water heater installed on top of a 4 foot high cabinet in the back porch (the ceiling had a cut-out so the top of the water heater was up in the rafters). It didn't dawn on me till now how unusual that was. It was in a desert area, no risk of floods. I can't think of any advantage that installation provided except that it was very easy to re-light the pilot light since it was up so high.
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Scrapr » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:16 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:46 pm
It is installed in a laundry/utility room (also has the boiler for the radiant system). It was like that when I got the house. The contractor had no solution other than when it's corrected they will install. They said it is a city permit item. I am in Missouri.
That right there means a call for another contractor to look at it. To say he can't install is one thing. To say I don't know what to do is entirely different. Cross this guy off your list. I suspect as said prior it's a gas WH on top of combustible wood. Steel platform and you are GTG

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StevieG72
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by StevieG72 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:34 pm

A tank-less water heater may be a good option.

It could even be cost efficient since you would avoid re configuring the current set up.
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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:35 pm

Scrapr wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:16 pm
Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:46 pm
It is installed in a laundry/utility room (also has the boiler for the radiant system). It was like that when I got the house. The contractor had no solution other than when it's corrected they will install. They said it is a city permit item. I am in Missouri.
That right there means a call for another contractor to look at it. To say he can't install is one thing. To say I don't know what to do is entirely different. Cross this guy off your list. I suspect as said prior it's a gas WH on top of combustible wood. Steel platform and you are GTG
Unfortunately the first one is the installation contractor for Home Depot, so I won't be able to go with my first choice. Another contractor is researching the code situation.
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TLB
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by TLB » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:46 pm

Uniform Plumbing code 507.13 says the "appliances in garages and in adjacent spaces that open to the garage and are not part of the living space of the dwelling unit shall be installed so that the burners are located not less than 18 inches above floor." You could remove old heater and add 12" to the original platform. You might have to raise your water lines.

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StevieG72
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by StevieG72 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:48 pm

Code calls for the ignition source to be at least 18" off of the floor if gas water heater is in the garage or a room accessed by the garage.

This is to prevent the pilot light from igniting fumes from combustibles stored in the garage.

Platform does not have to be 18", the pilot light needs to be 18" off the ground. So if the pilot light is 6" up on the water heater, then a 12" platform would suffice.

I am not a plumber, and know just enough about plumbing to be dangerous.
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by lthenderson » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:51 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:16 pm
I need to have my water heater replaced. The installation contractor informs me that as the existing one is sitting on a wooden platform, sort of built into the wall, it's not to code to install it. The platform is about 24"x24"x6".

How to proceed? I can't even remove it myself because the old tank is sitting on it.
Is the platform 6" or 24" above ground? Many states have codes stating that the water heater burner must be 18" above the floor in a garage situation where spilled flammables can be present to prevent the vapors from igniting.

Inside the house, many states have a maximum height to the burner so that if there were a gas leak, you have longer before the level of natural gas (it is lighter than air) reached the pilot and ignites.

Generally in either situation, you have to add the height of the platform to the distance between the bottom of the water heater and the burner to get a total distance that must be in range to the specified local codes.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by RudyS » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:55 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:35 pm
Scrapr wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:16 pm
Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:46 pm
It is installed in a laundry/utility room (also has the boiler for the radiant system). It was like that when I got the house. The contractor had no solution other than when it's corrected they will install. They said it is a city permit item. I am in Missouri.
That right there means a call for another contractor to look at it. To say he can't install is one thing. To say I don't know what to do is entirely different. Cross this guy off your list. I suspect as said prior it's a gas WH on top of combustible wood. Steel platform and you are GTG
Unfortunately the first one is the installation contractor for Home Depot, so I won't be able to go with my first choice. Another contractor is researching the code situation.
I was able to use my own contractor (plumber) whenb I bought a water heater from Home Depot. I didn't like their "regular" outfit. This is no different from buying it yourself, taking it home, and installing it yourself.

chw
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by chw » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:01 pm

Earl, if replacing the tank is going to be a major hassle due siting it to comply with current code, perhaps look into a tankless setup, which generally can fit in smaller locations. They tend to cost more money, but I believe last longer than a traditional tank type setup.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by lthenderson » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:10 pm

chw wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:01 pm
They tend to cost more money, but I believe last longer than a traditional tank type setup.
Depends on location of course. Here in hard water country, until recently, tankless water heaters didn't last any longer than the traditional tank models. Fortunately newer tankless models have a way to descale the internal parts but it involves hoses and descaling solutions like vinegar and pumping for periods of time. I.e., to keep them working, it is more of a maintenance time commitment than the tank water heaters.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:21 pm

It's not in a garage. It's in the living space of the house (laundry/utility room).
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by TLB » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:56 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:21 pm
It's not in a garage. It's in the living space of the house (laundry/utility room).
If your Utility room does not open into the garage you are good. I would ask for the local code to make sure.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by VaR » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:08 pm

baconavocado wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:12 pm
I just replaced my water heater myself and put it on a new 24x24x6" wood platform because the new tank was a little shorter than the old one and I didn't want to reconfigure the plumbing and duct work. Please don't report me to the city building department.
I might know of an identical situation involving a "friend" of mine.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by epictetus » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:33 pm

could you cancel your purchase from HOme Depot and find a plumber you know/someone else could recommend who is more interested in figuring out the problem and ways to approach the situation that this person is?

i would think a plumber in your area would be well-versed in the different options that might work in your situation
Focus on what you can control

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dual
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by dual » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:44 pm

I have an indoor water heater but the new code requires them to be outside. Trouble is the long run takes forever to get hot water and is wasteful. I found that installers for places like HomeDepot were not willing to do what I wanted so I found a local handyman who did it. That was in 2009 and it has worked fine.

The valve on the old one was so rusted that we could not open it so we cut the connector pipe at the top and siphoned out the water with a plastic hose. We dumped it into buckets that we emptied in the toilet. Took only about 15 minutes to empty the 30 gallon tank.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Teague » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:03 pm

A new modern water heater should be FVIR. (Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant) Is the new water heater FVIR? If so, it may be able to sit right on the ground with no platform. Depending on how enlightened the local code agency is.
Semper Augustus

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:40 am

epictetus wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:33 pm
could you cancel your purchase from HOme Depot and find a plumber you know/someone else could recommend who is more interested in figuring out the problem and ways to approach the situation that this person is?

i would think a plumber in your area would be well-versed in the different options that might work in your situation
I haven't made the purchase at HD. When you're getting it installed by their contractor, it's all arranged through them.

I have a plumber investigating the permit. If they go ahead, it won't be as good a deal as HD, but that's the way it goes.
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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:42 am

The second company confirmed the code issue. I have sent them pics to see what it would take to get rid of the wood and go with blocks or whatever.
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by RudyS » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:42 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:40 am
epictetus wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:33 pm
could you cancel your purchase from HOme Depot and find a plumber you know/someone else could recommend who is more interested in figuring out the problem and ways to approach the situation that this person is?

i would think a plumber in your area would be well-versed in the different options that might work in your situation
I haven't made the purchase at HD. When you're getting it installed by their contractor, it's all arranged through them.

I have a plumber investigating the permit. If they go ahead, it won't be as good a deal as HD, but that's the way it goes.
It appears that procedures/policies vary between Home Depot stores. I was able to buy my heater at the going price and have my plumber come, pick it up, and install it. I paid the plumber. HD had offered to arrange installation, but their contrtactor would not provide a price IN ADVANCE. So I went with the plumber, at a reasonabe cost.

VaR
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by VaR » Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:48 pm

RudyS wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:42 pm
It appears that procedures/policies vary between Home Depot stores. I was able to buy my heater at the going price and have my plumber come, pick it up, and install it. I paid the plumber. HD had offered to arrange installation, but their contrtactor would not provide a price IN ADVANCE. So I went with the plumber, at a reasonabe cost.
It might also the procedures/policies of your plumber. Maybe some prefer to only install the ones from their preferred vendors vs from Home Depot?

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Scrapr » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:50 pm

VaR wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:48 pm
RudyS wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 4:42 pm
It appears that procedures/policies vary between Home Depot stores. I was able to buy my heater at the going price and have my plumber come, pick it up, and install it. I paid the plumber. HD had offered to arrange installation, but their contrtactor would not provide a price IN ADVANCE. So I went with the plumber, at a reasonabe cost.
It might also the procedures/policies of your plumber. Maybe some prefer to only install the ones from their preferred vendors vs from Home Depot?
I'm sure most larger plumbers have a warehouse full of water heaters bought at bulk prices. So they lose a bit of margin by having the customer supply from HD or other supplier. Probably not a deal breaker. But the installers working through HD are squeezed on margins. So they have a tendency to cut corners. Either on service or on the install. An outside plumber is going to have to go pick up your WH from your supplier and transport it over. Which they have to charge for. Also the plumber probably doesn't warranty it like one they have in their own stock.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:35 pm

You can certainly have anyone install. The second plumber didn't want to do that. Said it was a paperwork to pick it up. Doesn't matter, as they won't deal with the platform either.

The problem is, nothing can be done with the heater sitting on the platform.

I went back to the original installer. They are going to send someone out to remove the existing heater and cap the lines. It will be an extra $75. Then when the platform is removed, they will install it.

I did preliminary demo, basically cut one corner off to see what the deal it. It looks like a wooden frame, sitting on the concrete, with a few layers of plywood and tile. It's in an inset corner, so the frame is attached to the back wall and the one on the right side.

Here's an ASCII diagram that might or might not help. The = and : lines are the wall, the - and | lines are the platform.

Code: Select all


================:
     ---------- :
    |          |:
    |          |:
    |          |:
    |          |:
     ---------- :=======================================



So attached to the wall on the back and right, free on front and left. It's not attached to the floor. It should be reasonable to get that out of there once the heater is gone.

Glad I'm retired not burning up vacation days to deal with this.
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by baconavocado » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:16 pm

There's no lines to "cap". Both water lines and the gas line should have valves on them, so all they have to do is turn them off. And they were going to have to remove the old tank anyway, so the $75 must be for the extra travel, which is reasonable.

This reminds me of a friend who bought a new dishwasher at HD and used their installation service. The installers came out and looked at the old dishwasher and said, we can't install because this has been leaking on the floor and you have some dry rot. My friend removed the old dishwasher, cut out a section of the subfloor and nailed a new piece in and then they installed it. I mean, after you've done all that, you might as well do the whole thing. The hardest part of these types of jobs is moving the old and new appliances around.

BTW, it costs about $40 to dispose of an old water heater in my area.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Scrapr » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:03 am

baconavocado wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:16 pm

BTW, it costs about $40 to dispose of an old water heater in my area.
Whaaaa??? Put it on the curb. Metal salvage will be around the pick up shortly. Or run it down to the salvage yard. Pro tip: If you leave some water in it you get paid for the water and the metal!

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:23 am

baconavocado wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:16 pm
There's no lines to "cap". Both water lines and the gas line should have valves on them, so all they have to do is turn them off. And they were going to have to remove the old tank anyway, so the $75 must be for the extra travel, which is reasonable.
The gas line is no problem. The water valve is stuck, won't turn. They can look at it. The reason for the charge is that it's a separate trip for them.
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student
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by student » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:55 am

Did the plumbers comment on whether they have seen this setup before and whether they have anybody to recommend to remove the object? I guess business must be good if they pass up clients.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:09 pm

Never-ending saga. The plumber came out and removed the heater and installed new shut-off valves. So that's great. The problem is, as soon as I started demo, I could see that there were copper pipes coming out of the back wall that then go into the floor. That's basically reason for the old wooden platform. You can't set the heater right on the floor there. So I don't know what we'll be able to do with that. I'm guessing a metal stand. Unfortunately, the standard ones are 18" tall, so that really throws off the height.

I have a call into the installer rep, and she will need to talk to the plumbers. The one has been out and measured things while he was here (also will need new flue piping because that's not to code either).
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by neilpilot » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:24 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:09 pm
Never-ending saga. The plumber came out and removed the heater and installed new shut-off valves. So that's great. The problem is, as soon as I started demo, I could see that there were copper pipes coming out of the back wall that then go into the floor. That's basically reason for the old wooden platform. You can't set the heater right on the floor there. So I don't know what we'll be able to do with that. I'm guessing a metal stand. Unfortunately, the standard ones are 18" tall, so that really throws off the height.

I have a call into the installer rep, and she will need to talk to the plumbers. The one has been out and measured things while he was here (also will need new flue piping because that's not to code either).
The common Eastman stand is 18" tall, but the legs can easily be cut down to reduce the height. Certainly not to the 6", but likely to 10-12" if that helps.

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:25 pm

Glad everything's going to be done correctly and brought up to code.
Might be a good idea to also install an overflow catch drain pan beneath the heater if there is a handy drain to tap into nearby, perhaps an HVAC condensate drain line, etc.
j

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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Scrapr » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:42 pm

My life experience is plumbing issues take 3 trips to home depot or supplier. Minimum. So you are at 1 or 2. Should be done with 1 or 2 more trips. :D

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:07 pm

The installer reports that they can set it on cement blocks, but it would be up to me to provide them. They stated that the blocks couldn't have holes in them. Solid blocks larger than 4" height are not readily available. Maybe mortar two together or fill the holes in a standard block? Thinking on that.
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Scrapr » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:58 pm

These installers are not very helpful. Is this the first time it has come up in their career? Sheesh. They have likely seen this repeatedly. So should have some idea how to solve this quickly & cheaply. I would almost expect them to have a few stands on their truck

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:16 pm

Scrapr wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:58 pm
These installers are not very helpful. Is this the first time it has come up in their career? Sheesh. They have likely seen this repeatedly. So should have some idea how to solve this quickly & cheaply. I would almost expect them to have a few stands on their truck
A stand would work, except that it would raise the height of the whole thing by 10" or so. That then causes problems with the venting.
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baconavocado
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Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by baconavocado » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:04 pm

See EL, you should have just found a new water heater that was exactly the same size as your old one and installed it yourself on top of the existing wooden stand. No one would know the difference, the new heater would be FVIR-compliant, and you wouldn't have to deal with all these double-talking installers.

Your comment about the duct not being up to code is the only thing that would worry me. But if you had installed it yourself, I'm sure you would have checked your ducts.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:14 am

Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:17 pm

I'm not a plumber. This heater has been installed for a long and needs some significant work. That includes a new intake valve. It will get there.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

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mrc
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:39 am

Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by mrc » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:34 am

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:16 pm
Scrapr wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:58 pm
These installers are not very helpful. Is this the first time it has come up in their career? Sheesh. They have likely seen this repeatedly. So should have some idea how to solve this quickly & cheaply. I would almost expect them to have a few stands on their truck
A stand would work, except that it would raise the height of the whole thing by 10" or so. That then causes problems with the venting.
A 2x2 grid of 12"x12" pavers would be solid, cheap, and not too high to work. 24" on a side, as tall as you need.
If it’s not long term it’s small talk

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Earl Lemongrab
Posts: 5441
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:14 am

Re: Water heater installation situation

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:49 pm

I have completed demo (amazing how much debris a 2'x2'x6" platform produced).

I have done measurements of the pipes that come out of the back wall and into the floor. Here's another ASCII diagram. The * represent the pipes. It's an overview, so you can't see the 3D aspect. They are approximately 6" off the floor. Again, the right and top sides are walls, the left and bottom are open to the room. The boiler sits about 4" farther over on the left.

I need to figure out a size and positioning of the cement blocks to support a water heater in that space. The tough constraint is the 4" between the wall and the pipe.

I have a call into the installer to see what the spacing requirements for the blocks are, and whether it's okay to stack blocks to get the necessary height.

Code: Select all

                       24"
  -----------------------------------------------
  |                     *               *       |
  |                     *               *       |
  |                     *               *       |
  |                     *               *       |
  |                     *               *       |
  |                     *          22"  *       |
  |                     *               *       | 24"
  |                     *               *       |
  |<-- 6"-->            *               *       |
  |*********            *<------ 8"---->*       |
  |                     *               *<- 4"->|
  |                     *               *       |
  |<----- 8"----><- 4"->* <----- 7"---->*       |
  |              ******** ***************       |
  |                                             |
  |                                             |
  -----------------------------------------------
  
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

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